Though you may flavor these with any type of hot pepper, including cayenne or hot paprika, I like black pepper best. For the best flavor use an extra-sharp Cheddar, though if you prefer the taste substitute Gruyere, Gouda, or even Emmenthal.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (see headnote)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
- 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans covered with parchment or foil.
1. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl; stir well to mix.
2. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the cheese and butter and pulse five or six times to mix. Add the flour mixture and pulse about eight or ten more times, or until the mixture just forms a ball.
3. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and form it into a square about ½ inch thick. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is firm enough to roll, 30 minutes to an hour.
4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
5. Divide the dough in half and place one half on a lightly floured work surface, and the other half in the refrigerator until ready to use. Lightly flour the dough and roll it out to less than ¼ inch thick. Use a floured 2-inch plain or fluted round cutter to cut out the cookies. Place them on the prepared pans, leaving about an inch all around each. Repeat with the remaining dough. Press together and reroll the scraps as they are formed to make more cookies.
6. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, or until they are firm and a light golden color.
7. Slide the papers from the pans to racks to cool.
8. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.
Serving size is 1 cookie.